2012 Women's Final Four: Stanford Can Beat Baylor If Amber Orrange Excels

Peter ChenContributor IIIMarch 30, 2012

Amber Orrange: fast freshman
Amber Orrange: fast freshman

As the 2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four approaches, with 35-1 and second ranked Stanford making an unprecedented fifth straight appearance, don’t overlook Coach Tara Vanderveer’s soft-spoken but lightning quick freshman guard, Amber Orrange. She could be a key to the Cardinal’s hopes for its first NCAA title since 1992. 

Sure, all the talk is Brittney Griner this, Ogwumike sisters that — which is well-earned attention for three of the best players in the land. 

Nneka Ogwumike is the presumptive top pick in the upcoming WNBA draft, and her younger sister Chiney is a dynamic double-double machine, game in, game out. Griner is the most dominating center ever in women’s college basketball. 

Orrange (pronounced not as in Orange Bowl, but rather, O-rahnge) could be a difference-maker in Sunday’s national semifinal. She was a McDonald's All American at Westbury Christian H.S. in Houston.

The 5’7” guard was inserted into the starting lineup midway through the season and has responded brilliantly. She is quick, fast, shifty, and with a explosive first step, can score going to the basket, or pull up and score from mid-range.

In under 20 minutes per game, she has averaged nearly five ppg and over three assists per game, and is third on the Cardinal with 40 steals. 

She tallied a season-high 18 points in the NCAA second round win over WVU, after a season-high 11 assists in the opener against Hampton. In the Elite Eight victory over Duke, Orrange scored 13 points and added four assists. 

Orrange is joined by, first and foremost, the unstoppable Ogwumike sisters, who combine for 38 ppg and 20 rpg. Then there's steady PG Toni Kokenis (8 assists in Elite Eight win over Duke) and three-point sharpshooters Lindy La Rocque, Joslyn Tinkle, Bonnie Samuelson and Taylor Greenfield.

Stanford has the physicality and talent to neutralize Griner and beat the Bears.

It all starts with Orrange.